Error: Embedded data could not be displayed.




Why We're Doomed: Our Economy's Toxic Inequality

August 16, 2017

Anyone who thinks our toxic financial system is stable is delusional.

Why are we doomed? Those consuming over-amped "news" feeds may be tempted to answer the culture wars, nuclear war with North Korea or the Trump Presidency.

The one guaranteed source of doom is our broken financial system, which is visible in this chart of income inequality from the New York Times: Our Broken Economy, in One Simple Chart.

While the essay's title is our broken economy, the source of this toxic concentration of income, wealth and power in the top 1/10th of 1% is more specifically our broken financial system.

What few observers understand is rapidly accelerating inequality is the only possible output of a fully financialized economy. Various do-gooders on the left and right propose schemes to cap this extraordinary rise in the concentration of income, wealth and power, for example, increasing taxes on the super-rich and lowering taxes on the working poor and middle class, but these are band-aids applied to a metastasizing tumor: financialization, which commoditizes labor, goods, services and financial instruments and funnels the income and wealth to the very apex of the wealth-power pyramid.

Take a moment to ponder what this chart is telling us about our financial system and economy. 35+ years ago, lower income households enjoyed the highest rates of income growth; the higher the income, the lower the rate of income growth.

This trend hasn't just reversed; virtually all the income gains are now concentrated in the top 1/100th of 1%, which has pulled away from the top 1%, the top 5% and the top 10%, as well as from the bottom 90%.

The fundamental driver of this profoundly destabilizing dynamic is the disconnect of finance from the real-world economy.

The roots of this disconnect are debt: when we borrow from future earnings and energy production to fund consumption today, we are using finance to ramp up our consumption of real-world goods and services.

In small doses, this use of finance to increase consumption of real-world goods and services is beneficial: economies with access to credit can rapidly boost expansion in ways that economies with little credit cannot.

But the process of financialization is not benign. Financialization turns evertything into a commodity that can be traded and leveraged as a financial entity that is no longer firmly connected to the real world.

The process of financialization requires expertise in the financial game, and it places a premium on immense flows of capital and opaque processes: for example, the bundling of debt such as mortgages or student loans into instruments that can be sold and traded.

These instruments can then become the foundation of an entirely new layer of instruments that can be sold and traded. This pyramiding of debt-based "assets" spreads risk throughout the economy while aggregating the gains into the hands of the very few with access to the capital and expertise needed to pass the risk and assets off onto others while keeping the gains.

Profit flows to what's scarce, and in a financialized economy, goods and services have become commodities, i.e. they are rarely scarce, because somewhere in the global economy new supplies can be brought online.

What's scarce in a financialized economy is specialized knowledge of financial games such as tax avoidance, arbitrage, packaging collateralized debt obligations and so on.

Though the billionaires who have actually launched real-world businesses get the media attention--Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, et al.--relatively few of the top 1/10th of 1% actually created a real-world business; most are owners of capital with annual incomes of $10 million to $100 million that are finance-generated.

This is only possible in a financialized economy in which finance has become increasingly detached from the real-world economy.

Those with the capital and skills to reap billions in profits from servicing and packaging student loan debt have no interest in whether the education being purchased with the loans has any utility to the indebted students, as their profits flow not from the real world but from the debt itself.

This is how we've ended up with an economy characterized by profound dysfunction in the real world of higher education, healthcare, etc., and immense fortunes being earned by a few at the top of the pyramid from the financialized games that have little to no connection to the real-world economy.

Anyone who thinks our toxic financial system is stable is delusional. If history is any guide (and recall that Human Nature hasn't changed in the 5,000 uears of recorded history), this sort of accelerating income/wealth/ power inequality is profoundly destabilizing--economically, politically and socially.

All the domestic headline crises--culture wars, opioid epidemic, etc.--are not causes of discord: they are symptoms of the inevitable consequences of a toxic financial system that has broken our economy, our system of governance and our society.


If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

Check out both of my new books, Inequality and the Collapse of Privilege ($3.95 Kindle, $8.95 print) and Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform ($3.95 Kindle, $8.95 print, $5.95 audiobook) For more, please visit the OTM essentials website.



Inequality is rising globally, and rising inequality is destabilizing. A status quo of increasing inequality self-destructs. To avoid this fate, we must answer this question: why is the gulf between the wealthy and everyone else widening so dramatically?

The answer boils down to one word: privilege.

What is privilege? There are many types of privilege, but they all share two characteristics: privilege delivers benefits, wealth and power that are unearned.

Privilege is destabilizing for many reasons: the dead weight of privilege reduces productivity, generates perverse incentives and fuels social injustice. Innovation and competition are threats to privileged monopolies and are therefore suppressed.

The only way to foster sustainable stability is to dismantle institutionalized privilege.

We have a moral imperative to eradicate privilege: privilege is immoral, as rising inequality is the only possible output of privilege. Privilege is exploitive, parasitic, predatory and destructive to the society and economy, and generates inequality by its very nature.

Stripped to its essence, privilege is nothing but institutionalized racketeering.

The only way to reverse rising inequality is to eradicate its source: privilege.

Inequality and the Collapse of Privilege ($3.95 Kindle ebook, $8.95 print edition)



Recent entries:

Why We're Doomed: Our Economy's Toxic Inequality August 16, 2017

Are We Already in Recession? August 14, 2017

What the Mainstream Doesn't Get about Bitcoin August 11, 2017

Powerlessness and Consumerism August 9, 2017

Not All Capital Is Equal; Some Is Destructive August 7, 2017

Is Another Oil Head-Fake Brewing? August 4, 2017

USD: Setting Up a Rip-Your-Face-Off Rally or in Freefall? August 3, 2017

Why We're So Risk-Averse: "We Can't Take That Chance" August 2, 2017

6 Key Questions about RussiaGate August 1, 2017


July 2017     June 2017     May 2017     April 2017     March 2017     February 2017     January 2017     2016 Archives     2015 Archives           Archives 2005-2016




Discover why I’m looking to retire in a SE Asia luxury resort for $1,200/month.





Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency. All contributors are listed below in acknowledgement of my gratitude.

Thank you, Steve S. ($50), for your massively generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your steadfast support and readership.

 

Thank you, John F. ($50), for superbly generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.


     


Our status quo--the pyramid of wealth and power dominated by the few at the top--has failed and is beyond reform.

This failure is not rooted in superficial issues such as politics or governmental regulations; the failure is structural.

The very foundation of the status quo has rotted away, and brushing on another coat of reformist paint will not save our societal house from collapse.

Yet those who benefit from our status quo naturally deny it has failed, for the reason that it has yet to fail them personally—either pretending to not understand that all unsustainable systems eventually collapse, or hoping to postpone it.

Our status quo is not only failing to solve humanity’s six core problems--it has become the problem.

Since this failure is now inevitable, something is coming to replace it.

Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform ($3.95 Kindle ebook, $8.95 print edition, $5.95 audiobook)



A Radically Beneficial World: Automation, Technology & Creating Jobs for All


Kindle $9.95   print $25   audiobook $18

Automation is upending the global order by eliminating human labor on an unprecedented scale--and the status quo has no solution to this wholesale loss of jobs.

What if we could hit the reset button on the way we create money, work, commerce and community? What if we could design a social economy rather than a merely financial one? These are not idle questions, for technology now enables us to hit that reset button and organize the creation of money, work, commerce and community in new ways.

If we could start from scratch, what would a new system look like? Clearly, we need a system that offers what the current system cannot: meaningful work for all.

This book is the practical blueprint of a new system that offers opportunities for meaningful work and ownership of the sources of prosperity not just to a few, but to everyone.

A radically beneficial world beckons—what are we waiting for?     Introduction     Chapter One (free PDF)



Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy
(Kindle, $9.95)(print, $17.76)   audiobook, $19.95 (Audible.com)
go to Kindle edition

"Don't give this to a recent grad. Read it when your kids are born and then read it with them around eighth grade."

"Finally a book that gives practical career advice. The author does an excellent job describing the current economic and political system and how this affects employment opportunities. Times have changed dramatically, and will continue to do so faster than ever. I'm glad I stumbled upon this excellent book, and will begin preparing myself accordingly." Joseph

"I want to thank you for creating your book Get a Job. It is rare to find a person with a mind like yours, who can take a holistic systems view of things without being captured by specific perspectives or agendas. Your contribution to humanity is much appreciated." Laura Y.         Test-drive the first section and see for yourself.


     



Of Two Minds Site Links

home     musings     my books     archives     books/films     policies/disclosures     social media/search     Aphorisms     How to Contribute, Subscribe/Unsubscribe     sites/blogs of interest     original music/songs     Get a Job (book)     contributors       my definition of success       why readers donate/subscribe to Of Two Minds     mobile site (Blogspot)     mobile site (m.oftwominds.com)


HUGE GIANT BIG FAT DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site should be construed as investment advice or guidance. It is not intended as investment advice or guidance, nor is it offered as such.... (read more)

WHY EMAIL TO THIS SITE IS READ BUT MAY NOT BE ACKNOWLEDGED: Regrettably, I am so sorely pressed for time and energy that I am unable to respond to the vast majority of emails. Please know I read all emails, but I can only devote a very limited number of hours to this blog and all correspondence....



Contributions

Contributors and subscribers enable Of Two Minds to post 275+ free essays annually. It is for this reason they are Heroes and Heroines of New Media. Without your financial support, the free content would disappear for the simple reason that I cannot keep body and soul together on my meager book sales alone.

Become a patron of my work via patreon.com

How to Contribute, Subscribe/Unsubscribe to Of Two Minds

SPECIAL APPEAL TO READERS OF OFTWOMINDS from longtime correspondent Cheryl A.:

I don't recall exactly how I discovered Of Two Minds in late 2005, but it is hard to express how grateful I am that I did. As a result of the insight I have gained from the information Charles has shared over these past 9 years, I have been able to navigate this turbulent period much more successfully than most of my acquaintances. I'm sure that those of you who visit OTM with any regularity have similarly benefitted in numerous ways.

The addition of the weekly musings has been an extra bonus for supporters that has provided further insight into the markets, as well as the world around us (often providing a much needed smile).

I have no doubt that those who generously contribute to this site recognize the value that it offers. I hope that those of you who visit, but have not yet contributed, will consider doing so. Your support is essential in helping to maintain such an important resource.

10/20/14 P.S. Over a year ago, Charles wrote about the coming rise in the dollar, a story that is just now gaining traction in the mainstream media. He was also early to recognize that the price of oil was going to fall. For readers who want foresight into where we are headed, these are further examples of why Charles deserves your support.

Thank you, Cheryl, for this vote of confidence. I can only promise that I will continue to do my best.

"This guy is THE leading visionary on reality. He routinely discusses things which no one else has talked about, yet, turn out to be quite relevant months later."
--Walt Howard, commenting about CHS on another blog.

"You shine a bright and piercing light out into an ever-darkening world."
Jeremy Beck




Or send coins, stamps or quatloos via mail--please request P.O. Box address.


Contributions in any amount are greatly appreciated.



Subscriptions to the Weekly Musings Reports

Subscribers ($5/mo) and those who have contributed $50 or more annually (or made multiple contributions totalling $50 or more) receive weekly exclusive Musings Reports via email ($50/year is about 96 cents a week).

Each weekly Musings Report offers six features:
1. Exclusive essay on a diverse range of topics
2. Summary of the blog this week
3. Best thing that happened to me this week
4. Market Musings--commentary on the economy & global markets
5. From Left Field (a limited selection of interesting links)

At readers' request, there is also a $10/month subscription option. (Everyone at the $10/month rate has the opportunity to add another person to the Musings email list for free.)

What subscribers are saying about the Musings (Musings samples here):

"What makes you a channel worth paying for? It's actually pretty simple - you possess a clarity of thought that most of us can only dream of, and a perspective that allows you to focus on the truth with laser-like precision." Jim S.

The "unsubscribe" link is for when you find the usual drivel here insufferable.

How to Contribute, Subscribe/Unsubscribe to Of Two Minds

 
 

PayPal and Dwolla members can also subscribe to the weekly Musings Reports with a one-time $50 payment: please email me if you use Dwolla, as Dwolla does not provide me with your email.

Become a $5/month patron of my work via patreon.com





Extra-Special Bonus Aphorisms:

"There is no security on this earth; there is only opportunity."
(Douglas MacArthur)

"We are what we repeatedly do." (Aristotle)

"Do the thing and you shall have the power." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." (E.F. Schumacher, via Tom R.)

"He who will not risk cannot win." (John Paul Jones)

"When we drink coffee, ideas march in like the army." (Honore de Balzac)

"Progress is not possible without deviation." (Frank Zappa, via Richard Metzger)

"Victory favors those who take pains." (amat victoria curam)

"The man who has a garden and a library has everything." (Cicero, via Lee Bentley)

"A healthy homecooked family meal and a home garden are revolutionary acts." (CHS)

"Do you know what amazes me more than anything else? The impotence of force to organize anything." (Napoleon Bonaparte)

"The way of the Tao is reversal" Or "Reversal is the movement of Tao." (Lao Tzu)

"Chance favours the prepared mind." (Louis Pasteur)

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." (Winston Churchill)

"Where there is ruin, there is hope for treasures." (Rumi)

"The realm of gratitude is boundless." (CHS, 11/25/15)

"History doesn't have a reverse gear." (CHS, 12/22/15)

Smith's Law of Conservation of Risk: Every sustained action has more than one consequence. Some consequences will appear positive for a time before revealing their destructive nature. Some consequences will be intended, some will not. Some will be foreseeable, some will not. Some will be controllable, some will not. Those that are unforeseen and uncontrollable will trigger waves of other unforeseen and uncontrollable consequences. (July 8, 2014)(thanks to Lew G. for retitling the idea.)

Smith's Neofeudalism Principle #1: If the citizenry cannot replace a kleptocratic authoritarian government and/or limit the power of the financial Aristocracy at the ballot box, the nation is a democracy in name only.

The Smith Corollary to Metcalfe's Law (The Network Effect): the value of the network is created not just by the number of connected devices/users but by the value of the information and knowledge shared by users in sub-networks and in the entire network. (CHS, 4/6/16)

"We've become a culture of excuses rather than solutions: solutions always require sustained effort and discipline." (CHS 4/9/16)

"Fraud as a way of life caters an extravagant banquet of consequences." (CHS 4/14/16)

"Creativity = problem solving = value creation." (CHS 6/4/16)

"Truth is powerful because it is the core dynamic of solving problems." (CHS 7/21/17)

click here for more Extra-Special Bonus Aphorisms.





Error: Embedded data could not be displayed.
   

Terms of Service:
All content on this blog is provided by Trewe LLC for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information. These terms and conditions of use are subject to change at anytime and without notice.

Our Privacy Policy:
Correspondents' email is strictly confidential. The third-party advertising placed by Adsense, Investing Channel and/or other ad networks may collect information for ad targeting. Links for commercial sites are paid advertisements. Blog links on the site are posted at my discretion.

Regarding Cookies:
This site does not collect digital data from visitors or distribute cookies. Advertisements served by third-party advertising networks such as Adsense and Investing Channel may use cookies or collect information from visitors for ad targeting; if you have privacy concerns relating to advertisements, please contact the advertisers directly.

Our Commission Policy:
Though I earn a small commission on Amazon.com books and gift certificates and gold (BullionVault) purchased via links on my site, I receive no fees or compensation for any other non-advertising links or content posted on my site.



   
   
   
    home     email me (no promise of response, sorry, here's why)     mirror site